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Halberstadt – Walker Road Property Gets A Dome

Walker Road Property Gets A Dome Of Its Own

Photo: New Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church set to open in early spring and host its Carrousel of the Nations village in June.

Walker Road Property Gets A Dome Of Its Own

For Walker Road travellers, it’s hard not to notice the handsome, byzantine-domed Greek Orthodox Church in the final stages of construction just north of E.C. Row Expressway.

The church is hoping for a grand opening, graced by Canadian Archbishop Sotirios Athanassoulas, around the Greek Easter season in early spring, which will relegate the venerable downtown Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church on Ellis Street to pasture.

The local Greek community membership had to vote twice, several months apart, to finally decide to build a new church and community centre at Walker Road instead of favouring a far cheaper option of utilizing adjacent properties it owns to upgrade the existing church and add a community centre.

So here’s a prelude to the status of the City of Windsor’s plan to protect 1.5 acres of the 12 acre Walker Road property for the regeneration of a woodlot that was clear-cut during the 2013-14 Christmas season.

The chainsaw decision, costing $25,000, was made by the church’s supposedly lame duck interim executive board intent on subverting governmental dictates to keep the woodlot untouched in its natural state.

This simile of a Greek Tragedy enraged the environmental community (including myself as I was then a City Councillor). City planners promptly recommended that City Council enact a bylaw that placed the previously wooded area in a green zoning category that would prevent further construction activity on the site.

The new Greek Church board took over in January of 2014 and appealed that decision to the Ontario Municipal Board, further angering citizens.

Fear not. The Greek community’s new board, led by Panos Sechopoulos, who took over the presidency in 2016, withdrew the appeal in August of that year, clearing the way for the community, under institutional zoning, to build the new church and community centre on the southeast corner of the property. A vacant factory on the northeast tract, leading to the green space, retains its industrial zoning.

Sechopoulos reports the church can hold 412 worshipers. The community centre/banquet hall with a capacity of 336 includes a divider, accommodating two rooms. The centre is joined to the church with a covered walkway. The complex also includes a members’ bar, kitchen, meeting rooms and four classrooms for youth studies on weekends.

Pews are being transported from the Ellis Street Church, which accommodates 12 to 15 services a month, says Sechopoulos.

The church council recently decided to move this June’s ever popular Greek Carrousel of the Nations village, a potent fundraiser, to the Walker Road complex, adding a retail component.

No decision has been made on the prospect of selling the Ellis property. The old church, first built as a basement in 1963 and expanded with an upstairs including a dome in 1975, is on the city’s heritage registry, which could complicate the market price.

Alan Halberstadt’s column continues on PAGE 6 on the digital issue.